The resilience of schools is being tested significantly right now. But what an incredible response we’ve seen from the sector over the last several weeks? We’ve been humbled by some of the stories we’ve heard of school leaders going above and beyond to support their pupils, staff and communities. And yet, the situation continues to evolve.
It was confirmed during Gavin Williamson’s recent COVID-19 update, that there is no date confirmed for when schools will reopen - and as such, schools started the new term still unsure of what’s to come.
At ScholarPack, we’re doing everything we can to be proactive and flexible to support our users amidst such uncertainty. We’ve always recognised the importance of getting feedback from our users in order to develop the products we offer to schools. Fortunately, we’ve been able to do that at speed in the last six weeks, to make sure our service is providing exactly what schools need to get the job done during these testing times.
For example, back in mid-March, we added new attendance reports to track the user of ‘Y’ codes (designating non attendance due to exceptional circumstances) and updated the ScholarPack MIS dashboard to show attendance for the previous five days - helping schools to more easily see the impact on pupil numbers. It was at this point that we also put out a request to our users, to tell us what else we could do to help, or any features we could quickly implement to support them.
When schools officially closed, we were quick to respond to requests for new dynamic reporting features. We added 5 new fields to the student profile so schools could record whether pupils were a child of a key worker, a vulnerable child, on an EHCP during COVID-19, has a social worker during COVID-19 or is attending during COVID-19 closure. A new COVID-19 report was also added so that school leaders could quickly report on any of the above fields. Recent data indicates, in the last month this report has been accessed 2,125 times by more than 570 schools.
Parent communication also became a priority for all of our users. Communicating partial school closure, supporting pupils eligible for free school meals and how to access remote learning resources all became urgent. In addition to waiving the license fee for ScholarPack Comms for those schools that had not used the comms module before and essentially making emails to parents free, we also reduced the cost of texts sent via this tool too. Unsurprisingly, usage of ScholarPack Comms spiked to over 200% in March, and school leaders sent more than three million texts. We also created dynamic groups for key workers, vulnerable children and those attending school during COVID-19, to speed up communication with these groups of parents (and reporting).
This is just a snapshot of what we’ve done to support our users over the last few weeks, and we’re continuing to find ways to do more as this situation evolves. As a cloud-hosted MIS, ScholarPack has the ability to iterate and roll-out new features to our users at the click of a button. We want to leverage this aspect of our system, to support as many schools as we can. Ultimately - if nothing else, we want to give school leaders one less thing to think about. If there’s anything we can do to support your school right now, please get in touch.
From myself and everyone at ScholarPack, stay safe and well.